PEOPLES Group, one of Scotland’s biggest independent car dealerships, has posted a record‑breaking financial and vehicle sales performance for the fourth consecutive year, and is geared up for further expansion.
The business, the biggest independent dealership in Europe retailing Ford only cars and commercial vehicles, also revealed the American car giant had pledged it was wholly unimplicated in the “defeat device” toxic emissions scandal that has engulfed rival Volkswagen.
Peoples’ annual report published today shows profits motored ahead more than 26 per cent to £5.51m in the year to end‑July, compared with £4.36m in the previous 12 months.
Turnover grew by more than £31.7m to over £236.7m, while the number of vehicles sold in its heartland of the Scottish Central Belt and north-west England lifted 8 per cent to 17,447.
Brian Gilda, founder and chairman of the company, said it would “actively pursue” further expansion “if appropriate opportunities presented themselves”.
Peoples has three dealerships in Scotland, at Edinburgh’s Hermiston Quay, Falkirk and Livingston, along with three dealerships in Liverpool and one in Accrington.
Gilda said the latest results had been achieved “in the face of fierce competition”, and therefore “did not mean we can allow ourselves the luxury of taking our foot off the gas”.
He said: “The feel‑good factor is more difficult to determine as governments at Westminster and Holyrood have to be factored into the mix and, of course, everyone in business, wants as much certainty as possible for investment and employment decisions.”
Gilda highlighted the latest performance of Peoples’ commercial vehicle division that was expanded in the previous financial year, as it delivered a volume increase of 87 per cent, an achievement he attributed to an improving UK economy.
The best-selling car was the Fiesta, and the chairman said products from Ford Motor Company “have never been better and that’s before we introduce the likes of the Mustang and other new models later in the year”. The company’s allocation of Mustangs, due next month, has already been pre-sold.
Gilda, who is chairman of the European Ford Dealer Council advising 2,250 dealers across 22 European markets, also addressed addressed concerns raised by the VW emissions scandal by making public an assurance given to him by James Farley, the head of Ford Europe.
In a letter to the Peoples’ chairman, Farley wrote: “Let me be absolutely clear. We do not use ‘defeat devices’ and we do not deliberately mislead the public, regulators or investors. Our award-winning vehicles and engines meet all applicable emissions standards in Europe.”
Peoples employs nearly 400 people in total, paid at least 10 per cent above the national minimum wage with no age restrictions.